Women’s Basketball: Tourney to present early-season challenge

Though the women’s basketball team is coming off an exhibition rout, the head coach does not want the team to get too ahead of themselves, a senior guard said.With one victory under their belt, the Lady Frogs will face Radford University in round one of the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament on Friday.

Head coach Jeff Mittie said this will be the second time in his career at TCU to participate in the tournament. He led the Lady Frogs to round two of the tournament in his first year as head coach in 1999.

After the exhibition game win against the All-Stars last week, senior guard Adrianne Ross said the team is focusing on being level-headed for the upcoming game.

“(Mittie) doesn’t want us to think we beat the No. 1 team in the country,” Ross said. “He’s keeping us grounded making sure we don’t get ahead of ourselves and take everything one step at a time.”

Mittie said tournaments are different from conference games because there are a lot of games squeezed into a short period of time, and the team and coaching staff can never know what to expect. The 16 invited teams will play first-round games Friday and compete until the championship game Nov. 18.

He said it is good for teams to face the challenges of not knowing other teams or who to play in the next round. Every team invited to the tournament is expected to have a successful season, Mittie said.

Although Radford had a good season last year and has four returning starters, Mittie said, he knows little about the Highlanders’ style of play.

“We don’t know what Radford will do,” he said. “We don’t know if they’ll play zone or man-to-man (defense) – we only go off of what they’ve done historically. We’re really preparing for a little bit of everything.”

Mittie said the tournament is a good way to evaluate the Lady Frogs at the beginning of the season and figure out what the team needs to work on.

After sitting out a season following her transfer from Northwestern University, junior center Lauren Roberts said any break from playing basketball makes it difficult to play at a high skill level right off the bat.

“You have to pick up the pace and find your rhythm and groove on the team,” Roberts said.

If the Lady Frogs win tonight, the squad will either play Samford University or No. 5 LSU in the next round, Mittie said.

Mittie and Ross said it would be an exciting opportunity to play LSU, but they want to stay focused on tonight’s opponent before they can even begin to think about the next.